Western Illinois University’s new Seymour Center for Rural Education Unveiled

The ribbon cutting ceremony marked an expansion of the Great River Teacher Corps program on Future Teacher Day.

October 31, 2023 |

The Arlington and Arlene Seymour Center for Rural Education at Western Illinois University (WIU) was unveiled on October 27th, serendipitously on Future Teachers Day. The morning began with over 200 high school students on WIU’s campus, exploring the opportunities and offerings. The high school students self-elected to attend by showing an interest in joining the teaching profession. Prospective students were able to meet with current Rural Teacher Corps members and learn about their experiences. The students of the Great River Teacher Corps were then invited by WIU Vice President for Advancement, Alumni Relations and Athletics, Clare Thompson, to cut the ribbon of the new Seymour Center for Rural Education, marking an expansion of the Great River Teacher Corps, providing scholarships and support for future rural teachers.

Arlington and Arlene Seymour, two lifelong educators, believed in the power of education and the importance of giving back to the community. The Seymours knew their impact would be lasting at Western Illinois University, leading to the gift that supports the new center.

The center, housed within the School of Education in the College of Education and Human Services, will act upon its mission through five sustainable priorities: developing a system to expand the teacher applicant pool for rural school districts in the region, providing advocacy, policy and research activities, developing a network for rural educators to partner with school districts and advocating for rural education at the local, state and national level. To achieve this, the center offers partial and full tuition and fee scholarships to students who wish to pursue careers in teaching K-12 and agree to stay in WIU's 16-country service region to teach following graduation.

The Great River Teacher Corps (GRTC) was created in 2019 to address the looming teacher shortage in rural Illinois. RSC is proud to be a small part of this program's history by supporting early seed grants through the Catalyst Initiative Fund. Through regional grants, funding and donations from local foundations, the GRTC continues to provide opportunities to future teachers to follow their dreams in teaching. In turn, these future teachers are committed to teach in west central Illinois schools, contributing to thriving regions schools. Thanks again to WIU for their continued commitment to rural education, and their sustained investment in the future rural teacher pipeline!

Learn more about the Great River Teacher Corps and similar efforts through RSC's collaborative Rural Teacher Corps Network.

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